by Bailey Basham
Upwards of 50 people are helping Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid come to life on the stage in Benson Auditorium this weekend.
Jeff Frame, chair of the department of communication studies and professor of dramatic arts and communication is producing the show—his 99th at Trevecca.
“The tale of The Little Mermaid is a cautionary tale. A girl must give up her identity and the things that make her special in order to find love. Essentially, she chooses voicelessness in her search for belonging and for something new and exciting,” said Frame. “Our production concept involves a Bohemian look designed to reinforce the idea of wanderlust in both Ariel and Eric. This yearning in them eventually snowballs into catastrophe, and it is only through a father’s sacrificial love that Ariel is saved. Our hope is that, despite the color and dance and music that is so infectious when watching and listening to this show, audiences will also consider what really happens in this story, and why Ariel and the other characters—especially her father King Triton—really make the complex choices that they do.”
Frame said his goal was to adapt the well-known show in a unique way.
“The best part of the art of adaptation, I think, is that one does not merely attempt to repeat what has come before, but rather create a brand new work that honors the spirit of the original in hopefully the best ways. I think Disney[’s rendition] accomplished that.”
Frame said he and his staff begin meeting to discuss production and design and requests rights for the musical in the summer. Casting, set construction and rehearsals begin in the fall when students return to campus.
“I think this entire cast stands out because they are wildly multi-talented. We have very strong singers, very strong dancers, and very strong actors in this show. It’s a collaboration of some of the most talented students in the performing arts at Trevecca,” said Frame. “Our cast of principals and secondary characters work extremely hard—both in collective rehearsals and individually. They carry an exuberant spirit and love for what they do, which makes it a joy to work with them.
Of the 27 actors in the show, more than a third of the cast dyed their hair to make themselves into convincing mermaids.
“When I was asked to dye my hair, I didn’t hesitate with my answer which was obviously ‘Yes I’m okay with it.’ My main motivation behind my hair was, if dying my hair was the best way to help the audience understand and to submerge them into the story, then I am all for it because the show must go on,” said sophomore theatre major Ryan Atkinson. Atkinson is playing Ariel’s father, King Triton.
The Little Mermaid is freshman Peyton Williams’ first show at Trevecca.
“I have been involved in theater since my first roll in a church musical in 6th grade. I decided to audition for the role of a mersister, because I knew it was a fun and playful role, and I knew they had a couple of awesome songs and fun dances,” said Williams, television and film production major. “I ended up getting 4 roles.”
Williams is playing Atina, the oldest ‘mersister; Gull, which required learning to tap dance; a maid and a Coloratura Princess.
“My favorite part about the variety of my characters is how much of a challenge it is to constantly change who I am on stage. Of course my favorite role is Atina, the oldest ‘mersister’ of the seven because of the costume I get to wear and the fact that all of my lines are fish puns,” said Williams. “Something [Atina and] I have in common is that [we are both] fairly sassy, but we differ because she often finds herself being jealous and comparing herself to her youngest sister Ariel.”
To buy tickets for the show, click here. The show will run Oct. 27–29 and Nov. 3–5.
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